Big Lens at the Zoo

During the weekend that I had the gigantic 800mm lens for the moon photos I posted recently, Desi, Mom, Walter and I all spent a day at the Toronto Zoo. Thanks to the folks at the zoo for free passes! I got some great portraits of the big cats:

It was a great day, even though it was a little chilly and rainy. I could have spent twice as much time there, if my arms could handle the weight of carrying that lens around!

Check out the gallery below, and let me know what your favourite shots are!

A Night at Onaping Lake

Last week was fantastic. My family on my dad’s side all traveled about an hour north of Sudbury to Onaping Lake for a vacation / family reunion. Onaping Lake was the location of my grandparent’s cottage for many years, and it is also the resting place of my father. It was amazing to be back there for a relaxing and fun visit.

Canon let me test-drive a few lenses for that week, one of which was absolutely perfect for night landscapes. This is probably the best image from the entire week:

Taken from the dock of the cottage that we were staying in. The light you see on the horizon is not from sunrise or sunset, but rather light pollution bouncing off of the bottom of a cloud (likely from Levack). The light was so faint that it was pretty much invisible to the naked eye, but the camera picked it up nicely.

Another favourite activity when camping is sitting around the campfire. I’ve always been mesmerized by campfire and love the great conversations that happen around one. Recently, I’ve taken to looking to the sky on these nights to see the beauty in the stars that I rarely ever see living in a city:

The trees are lit almost exclusively by the light of the campfire; The milky way jumps right out. That might even be a faint trace of the Northern Lights in the bottom right of the image.

Now, the “big lens” that Canon sent my way was their 800mm F/5.6L IS lens, with a 1.4x telephoto extender. I was hoping to get a nice moon shot with this, but weather and timing didn’t coopoerate. Instead, I got some outstanding nature and action shots that I’ll be posting over the next week. Check back soon!

And thanks to James for snapping that pic of me – much appreciated!

Komarechka Reunion – Algonquin Park

It was in the planning for quite some time, and Desi and I were so excited to get there – the Komarechka family camping reunion in Algonquin Park! So many great experiences, as well as a few unexpected events. 🙂

As night was falling, we were all sitting around the campfire playing games. Jake and I were closest to one side of the fire and heard a little rustling in the bushes. Upon closer inspection, the creature causing the rustling took off to the other side of uncle Mike and aunt Cindy’s trailer. It wasn’t long before Jake identified it as a Black Bear. Yep! We scared it off by various means, but the bear was circling our camp site.

We called the bear reporting line and both the warden and the MNR officers arrived shortly thereafter. They didn’t offer much comfort, seeing how the bear had already left the area. Ah well. We all went back to the fire and kept chatting.

Shortly after midnight we decided to head to bed. I fell asleep right away but Desi had a hard time sleeping – her first time camping and we see a bear! I wouldn’t be sleeping either. By around 1:40am, Desi heard something in the bushes outside our tent. A moment later she heard it again, followed by a deep growl on the other side of the tent. I woke up to her screaming at the top of her lungs – and I joined in! I had no idea why at first, but it soon became clear; our bear was back.

Ross was the only one to actually see him this time, but it was the same bear – no tags or collar. We later found out our screams woke up the entire campground! At this point I knew there was no sleep in our immediate future. I called the bear reporting line again and just our luck – no wardens or MNR officers working at that hour. We called the OPP and they arrived quickly enough, but again the bear was gone.

So six of us sat awake from 1:40am to about 6:30am when the sun rose. It was a cold night, dipping down to 5 degrees. Slowly as the morning came it was just Desi and I, here’s a photo aunt Cindy took before she headed off to bed too:

The night was scary, but beautiful. The stars were outstanding and you could clearly see the milky way – sadly no photos though! We also saw the beginning of the Perseid Meteor Shower, which was also breathtaking.

As the sun rose, the mist on the water became visible – giving us a glimpse of the true beauty of nature we rarely see:

Completely exhausted, we rested in uncle Mike’s truck for a few hours, then woke up for breakfast. We were supposed to stay two nights, but that clearly wasn’t happening at this point. We did however enjoy a great day with everyone there! Thanks to Jake and Danielle, we were even able to track down some Moose:

Desi also went fishing for the first time and did extremely well – her first time fishing, first time in a boat, and first time camping! So very many experiences, we’ll definitely remember this trip for a lifetime. One of the best parts of the trip however was the family photo – everyone was there!

And in honour of our visitor through the night, we also took a special photo to commemorate the event:

Thanks for such a great time everyone! I’m not sure how next year will work out… but it was great to see everyone in one place!

Epilogue: aunt Cindy followed up with the warden after our departure. The wardens had set up camp in our site the following night in hopes of catching the bear. He came back that night too, and the caught him. The night of our adventure, that same bear ripped through the door of a Honda Civic, and broke the window in a van. It’s good that he’ll no longer be troubling campers.

A Picnic in Toronto

It’s fun to get out, even if you don’t go very far. A while back, Desi and I went on a picnic one quiet afternoon at a nearby park. In the busy lives we live, there is much to be said for staring up into the sky and dreaming. Peace and quiet are things that need to be sought out sometimes, which is exactly what Desi and I did. 🙂

… and you know what, I didn’t get a photo of the wonderful spread of food we brought. Wonderful sandwiches, cheeses and bread, and great dessert too! I did, however, try out some infrared photography, which was quite interesting:

It is interesting to see the world in a way that we can never see it. Our eyes cannot see infrared, yet it bounces around the world just like regular light. It acts a little differently though – it reflects heavily off of foliage, and almost not at all off of water and the sky. It can make for some very surreal looking landscapes – portraits too! (you’ll find one of Desi in the gallery below). Colour in infrared photos are always fake, so you can play with them and have fun, or make them black & white. Photos like that can help me open my eyes, a wonderful thing to do.

Desi and I had a great time, definitely going to do this again 🙂

A Glimpse of the Past

A little while ago, Desi had a wonderful idea. During the Doors Open Toronto city-wide event, many attractions had no admission fee for the day. We were able to take advantage of this and visit the Black Creek Pioneer Village for about an hour after work, and we had a wonderful time.

For those unfamiliar with the place, it is essentially an entire village center with various businesses and workshops all staffed by people in period costumes. The village is circa early to mid 1800s and was simply fascinating to visit. We didn’t have very much time so we didn’t get to see it all, but we definitely want to go back and visit it again when we have more time. They even had a fully-operational microbrewery built to 1850 standards and a blacksmith heating and bending metal with period tools:

Our quick visit to the village was a fun adventure and reminded us both a little of our trip across Europe. 🙂 Full gallery below:

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